6 ways to prevent cardiovascular disease

Most cardiovascular diseases are preventable and that is a fact. By implementing these 6 strategies, you will minimize the possible risks and ensure your heart health and long life.

Statistics indicate that cardiovascular diseases are the main cause of death in people, but this does not mean that this is your destiny and you should place yourself in this ranking.

Although there are risk factors that you cannot change and have no control over (age, gender, and family history), there are much more options open to you for prevention.

With proper prevention, you can minimize your risk. Let’s see what the six most important steps are in protecting yourself from cardiovascular disease:

1. Don’t smoke

Smoking cigarettes or using tobacco products in any other possible way is one of the riskiest endeavors that can put your heart in serious danger.

Chemicals in tobacco can cause blood vessels to narrow and damage the heart and arteries. Atherosclerosis can lead to a heart attack.

When smoking, the carbon monoxide in the cigarette smoke replaces some of the oxygen in the blood. This increases blood pressure and heart rate, making your heart work harder to deliver enough oxygen.

Women who smoke and take birth control pills are at greater risk of heart attack or stroke than those who don’t. Smoking and birth control pills increase the risk of blood clots.

When it comes to preventing cardiovascular disease, there is no safe amount of cigarettes. However, the more you smoke, the greater the risk. Exposure to secondhand smoke, as well as so-called “social smoking” (smoking only while in a bar or restaurant with friends) are also dangerous and increase the risk of heart disease.

The good news, however, is that when you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops to almost that of a non-smoker after about five years. And no matter how long or how many cigarettes you’ve been smoking, quitting will begin to bring benefits to your health as soon as you kick the bad habit.

2. 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week

Getting regular, even daily, physical exercise can significantly reduce the risk of fatal heart disease. And when you combine physical activity with some other lifestyle measures, such as maintaining a healthy weight, the results are even greater.

Physical activity helps control weight and can reduce the chances of developing other conditions that can harm the heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Indulge in at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week.

However, if you’re short on time, even shorter exercises will bring heart benefits, so even if you only have a few minutes, don’t give up! You can get very big health benefits even if you cut your exercise time down to very short 10-minute sessions every day of the week. Just don’t give up!

And don’t forget that activities such as gardening, intensive housework, climbing stairs and walking the dog also contribute to physical activity. You don’t have to overdo your workouts to get results. However, you can see great benefits by increasing the intensity, duration and frequency of your workouts.

3. Eat heart-healthy food

Eating healthy food can reduce your risk of heart disease. It is important to follow a dietary regimen aimed at preventing the onset of hypertension and emphasizing the Mediterranean diet.

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help protect your heart. Beans, along with some other low-fat sources of protein and some types of fish, may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Limiting certain fats that you consume is also important. Of the types of fat – saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans fat – saturated fat and trans fat are the ones you’ll need to try to limit or avoid.

Try to keep saturated fat to no more than 10 percent of your daily calories, and trans fat is best cut out of your diet entirely.

The main sources of saturated fat include:

– Red meat;
– Dairy products;
– Coconut and palm oils;

Sources of trans fats include:

– Fried fast foods;
– Bread products;
– Packaged foods;
– Margarine;
– Biscuits;

If the nutrition label contains the term “partially hydrogenated”, it means that a product contains trans fats.

A heart-healthy diet, however, doesn’t mean you have to eliminate everything that contains fat from your diet.

Healthy fats from plant sources, such as avocados, nuts, olives and olive oil, help the heart by reducing bad cholesterol.

Most people need more fruits and vegetables in their diet. You should include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet five to ten times a day.

Eating that many fruits and vegetables can not only help prevent heart disease, but can also help prevent cancer and fight diabetes.

Eating a few servings of fish per week (such as salmon and mackerel, for example) may reduce the risk of heart attack.

After the advice on proper nutrition, we should also say a few words about alcohol. A healthy diet means keeping an eye on how much alcohol you drink.

If you choose to drink alcohol, it does not automatically mean that you will harm your heart. In fact, quite the opposite – there may even be some benefits. However, remember that everything is in moderation.

Up to one drink per day for women of all ages and older men over age 65 and up to two drinks per day for men under 65 are not dangerous.

In this amount or less, alcohol can have a protective effect on the heart. However, more than that, it becomes a health hazard.

4. Maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight, especially around if concentrated around the waist, increases the risk of heart disease. Being overweight can lead to an increase in certain risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

One way to see if your weight is healthy is to calculate your body mass index, which takes your height and weight into account when determining whether you have a healthy or unhealthy body fat percentage.

A body mass index of 25 and higher is associated with higher levels of blood fat, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

BMI is good, but not perfect. Muscle weighs more than fat. For this reason, both women and men who are very muscular and physically fit can have a high body mass index without, however, having any health risks.

This is why waist circumference is also a useful tool to measure how much belly fat you have:

Men are considered overweight if their waist measurement is greater than 101 cm. Women are overweight if their waist measurement is greater than 89 cm.

Even a small weight loss can be beneficial. Losing weightby as little as 5 to 10 percent can help lower blood pressure, lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of diabetes.

5. Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep can wreak more havoc than yawning all day. This can actually seriously harm your health.

People who don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes and depression.

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